Deciding on the best method to educate your children is a difficult choice for many parents. One of the hardest parts of this decision can be finding accurate and unbiased information about each type of schooling. This especially applies to home schooling as it is very personal and independent. For this reason, many parents become unnecessarily stressed when the time comes to research and choose a schooling option. It is important to understand the pros and cons of home schooling for both you and your child and the different forms it can take before making this decision.
If you have any questions about different aspects of home schooling and how it works, reading this article is a great way to learn more about the process.
What are the pros and cons of home schooling?
This table summarises the key pros and cons of home schooling to help you weigh up each side. Remember that these can vary from family to family. You should remember to take your personal circumstances into account when trying to decide whether home schooling is right for you.
|Pros to home schooling||Cons to home schooling|
|You can home school for free if you are creative with resources.||Many parents find they need to buy textbooks or hire tutors. Sometimes you may also have to pay public exam fees (for GCSEs).|
|There is no need to buy school uniform or other items required by certain schools.||No monetary grants are available to UK parents who wish to home school.|
|Home schooled children have less issues with in-person bullying and children with social anxiety can benefit too.||Children may struggle with social interaction as they have cannot learn the basic social skills learnt from a young age at school.|
|Children can make friends with others, mainly those who they see at clubs and groups.||Students have less interaction with people their own age, so may be more isolated.|
|Child-parent and sibling bonds often become much stronger as they spend all day together.||A huge time commitment is required from parents, and they may need to quit working full time in order to help their children.|
|Children will progress through subjects faster than conventionally schooled pupils.||The subjects studied may be biased towards what the parents are most learned in.|
|Home schooled children tend to get better grades and earn qualifications earlier than their peers.||Gaining qualifications early can further isolate children, as they are unable to converse with people of their own age on school topics.|
|Home schooled pupils tend to be more independent in their learning as they adapt to focussing in a distracting home environment.||If home schooled children later switch to conventional schooling, they often find it difficult fitting into a new environment.|
|Home schooled pupils can follow a curriculum tailored to their interests, developing their talents.||Home schooled pupils who choose not to take exams can find it harder to get a job or enter university in the future.|
Whilst this table summarises the key advantages and disadvantages of home schooling, this is a complex topic, so for more detailed reasoning, keep reading.
Is home schooling more expensive than regular schooling?
As home schoolers have no legal obligation to follow the national curriculum, it is technically possible to home school a child spending no money. However, the reality is that for the best quality education, you will end up paying something. Most parents find that they need to buy certain items or services in addition to the education they provide themselves.
What are the Costs Associated with Home Schooling?
Although home schooling can look like a cheap option at a glance, this is not necessarily the case. Most home schooling parents find that they need at least a few of the following items:
- A curriculum – while it is possible to write one yourself, pre-made curriculums can be bought from around £30-£100 and often include resources which makes it easier to track your child’s progress.
- Practical resources – whilst some worksheets can be written by parents, it is often quicker and easier to buy resources if a pre-made curriculum hasn’t been purchased. There are some great websites providing material both paid for and free, one of which is Twinkl, which you can click here to find.
- Teaching and revision supplies – when children come to studying for external exams, they may also require textbooks and revision guides. These need to be bought by parents, unlike at a conventional school.
- Tutors – especially once reaching secondary age, parents find their own knowledge of subjects is no longer sufficient. You may choose to hire a tutor for GCSEs or have your child attend a class. This can be very expensive, as good-quality tutors often charge high prices.
- Field trips – although field trips are not essential to learning, you may choose to purchase memberships to either the National Trust or museums to create a more varied educational experience.
- Extracurricular activities – home schooled children may choose to attend social groups, sporting activities or have other hobbies which will cost extra money.
Over time, these costs can add up. However, it is important that your child receives the best education possible. On top of this, remember that conventional schooling is not always completely free either.
For information about other costs home schoolers may encounter, please check out this Think Student article.
What are the costs associated with conventional schooling?
Whilst home schooling comes with several additional costs, it is important to note that sending a child to school also costs money. Expenses such as school trips, uniforms and tutoring are associated with school, so home schooling is not necessarily more expensive. Depending on how carefully you spend your money, it can even end up being the cheaper option.
Schools may also require payment overall, such as in the private school system. This is usually a very large sum, so home schooling will definitely work out cheaper in comparison to private education.
However, if you choose to attend a full online schooling programme from home, it may add up to an amount not far off the cost of private school. Keep this in mind when considering your options. For more information on the cost of private schools in the UK, click here.
Can you reduce the costs of home schooling?
Currently, there are no grants or funding available to parents in the UK to help with the cost of home schooling. This concept is explained further in this article, along with several other answers to common home schooling questions. For some parents, the lack of grants can make it difficult to afford the resources or exams needed.
However, there are many home schooling groups across the UK giving advice on how to get free resources. These are great for people who need a guide home schooling on a budget from other experienced parents.
Click here to visit this Facebook page containing links to many local groups, as well as a UK-wide community providing support for home schooling parents. For more information on local support groups, check out your local council website.
Remember that spending money does not necessarily mean your child will get a better education. Your attention, time and energy will help your child to succeed at home schooling most, no matter how much you spend.
Are home schooled children anti-social?
One of the first problems cited by people opposed to home schooling is usually the lack of social contact children get if they do not attend school. There are a few ways to see this problem, as it is not necessarily true that home schooled children have fewer social connections.
Being around other people teaches children how to share, make friends, and settle disagreements. Especially with young children, a lack of interaction with people their own age can cause issues later in life. This could be difficulty making friends and working in groups or social awkwardness and anxiety.
Socialising is an area where conventionally schooled children thrive, as school is the ideal place to make friends, seeing them constantly both in and outside school. It is arguable that home schooled children are less sociable as there are fewer opportunities for interaction.
Summer camps, public spaces like parks and zoos, and specific activities such as sports are also great ways for home schooled children to socialise. Home schooling groups are also a great option for students to meet others their own age, taking part in activities together whilst also learning social skills.
That said, a big reason lots of parents choose to home school their children are down to social issues at school. This includes both bullying and friendship exclusion. Home schooled children may feel safer in a home environment without peer-pressure issues.
Instead, they can socialise with other children with similar interests in their own time. Home schooling therefore has the potential to be a safer option for children who have been bullied. For more information about socialising your home schooled child, please read this article from donotpay.com.
Does home schooling require a lifestyle change for parents too?
Home schooling is not just a big change for a child, but it also requires a lot of extra work from the parents of the house. In school, students have a teacher to guide them, set homework, and ensure they are progressing as they should. However, at home this job falls to the parents. This is a big commitment to make that won’t work if you feel you need to focus on your job.
This is the reason that many home schooling parents choose to employ tutors or have their students attend online classes. Teaching a child full time can be extremely tiring and may be to the detriment of a full-time job. Without a tutor present, you need to supervise your child to ensure they are completing their work correctly.
The benefit of home schooling, however, is that parent-child relationships usually grow a lot stronger. You will often spend most of the day together and therefore learn a lot about each other.
Having a stronger relationship has many benefits and is great for both parents and children as they learn to enjoy each other’s company a lot more. The same applies for siblings, who also get to spend more time together.
That said, it is often the case that home school children are often more self-motivated and independent in their learning. For this reason, the amount of time parents has to spend helping their children with homework may be comparably similar to the time spent helping with home schooling.
Is home schooling a more efficient method of education?
As mentioned above, home schooled students often progress much faster through content than conventionally schooled pupils. This means they usually make more progress and are able to reach milestones such as reading, or even taking GCSEs, faster than others. This is mainly due to the “small class sizes” provided by being home schooled.
This certainly makes home schooling seem more efficient, as students will likely need to spend a lot less time working during the day than their conventionally schooled peers. They don’t get homework and can work at their own pace. Unlike with regular schools, they do not need to move at the speed of the slowest pupil in the class.
For more information on the importance of homework for all students, click here.
However, home schooling can mean that students get a biased education. This is because parents may be more skilled in some subjects and therefore choose to focus on those instead of the ones the child needs.
This can mean students do not have as well-rounded of an education or do not get to work at subjects they find difficult. This means they may struggle later when they need to apply those skills to other areas of life.
Do home schooled children get better grades?
Home schooled children on average have higher scores and grades than their conventionally schooled peers. They also tend to gain GCSEs or other qualifications earlier and faster, again with commendable scores.
This is due to the focussed and individual attention that home schooling allows for, as mentioned before. This proves that a well-rounded home school education can be just as effective as a conventional education, when done in the right way.
More statistics on home schoolers can be found in this document from the Welsh Government, which compares scores across the UK and America for pupils taught both in and out of school.
Home schooled pupils also tend to be more independent in their learning, because they have to be self-motivated in order to achieve qualifications without a teacher. This sets them up well for later life when they will be able to complete tasks themselves and stay on topic while in a distracting environment.
Is home schooling easier for younger pupils?
Home schooling for younger students is often considered easier as parents are usually able to teach them everything that they need to know without hiring any tutors. This means each day’s schooling often takes a lot less time and students are able to make faster progress as they have the undivided attention of their parents.
However, as mentioned above, younger pupils may struggle with the lack of social interaction in home school and may therefore be distracted. They may also struggle with the stricter rules of in-person school if they choose to attend later in life, as their early experiences are very different from their peers.
At the other end of the spectrum, home schooling older students can sometimes be easier as they are more self-motivated. The curriculum followed for national exams such as GCSEs and A-Levels is stricter. Parents can usually leave them to work by themselves for this reason, decreasing the intensity and pressure of home schooling slightly.
The problem is that the harder material learned by older students may be beyond parents’ capacity to teach. Whilst they are usually happy to get on with their work independently, if older students get stuck with any work, you may need to find a tutor or online class.
Home schooling works differently for all families, so it is impossible to say whether it will be easier to home school younger or older children.
Do home schooling parents have more flexibility in what they teach?
As home schoolers do not have to follow the national curriculum, home school in undoubtably more flexible than conventional schooling. Check out this Think Student article to learn more about whether home schooled students have to follow the school syllabus.
Home school students can go on more field trips, visit the sites they are learning about, and overall gain more active context in their education. This means they are often more motivated, as well as understanding content in better depth.
Another benefit of this is that students can pursue their interests more actively, as they are able to nurture their favourite parts of each subject. For example, a student with a strong interest in music at school may only get outside of school support for this. However, a home schooled student can implement concerts and music classes into their timetable to increase their exposure.
The only problem is that sometimes, by focussing only on the subjects a student enjoys, other important subjects are neglected. As mentioned above, this can lead to a biased education, which will make things harder later in life.
On the flip side, another benefit of home school is that students with physical or mental health problems or other Special Educational Needs can have a tailored environment for their learning. This makes it easier for them to learn in an environment that suits them, while also attending hospital check-ups, therapy, or other appointments without disrupting their learning.
Above all, remember that home schooling is a big commitment for both you as a parent and your child, so the decision should not be taken lightly. However, whichever path you choose, also remember that nothing is permanent. It is always possible to change between home and conventional schooling if needs be.